Variable Pay Transparency in Organizations: When are Organizations More Likely to Open Up About Pay?

Alexandra Arnold, Anna Sender, Ingrid Fulmer, David Allen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Due to external pressures organizations are confronted with the need to increase pay transparency and communication. However, there is limited research that has looked at when organizations are more likely to open up about pay. This study explores whether organizations report different levels of pay transparency depending on the characteristics of their variable pay systems. Using data from HR professionals at 400 organizations collected in a multi-country study, we investigated how proportion of variable pay, existence of group-level variable pay and use of objective and absolute performance criteria are associated with procedural variable pay transparency (i.e., transparency about how pay is determined), distributive variable pay transparency (i.e., transparency about actual pay levels) and variable pay communication restriction (i.e., discouraging employees from discussing pay among themselves). Overall, our results point to both external factors (i.e., country) and internal factors (i.e., variable pay system characteristics) that are associated with variable pay transparency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)16-36
Number of pages21
JournalCompensation and benefits review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2024


  • internal alignment
  • pay disclosure
  • pay transparency
  • strategic human resource management
  • variable pay

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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